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Antony reviews Ordnance Factory Board work

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Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Monday reviewed the functioning of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), including plans to get its much-delayed Nalanda factory on stream.

The factory was envisaged over a decade ago for manufacturing ammunition for the 155 mm field guns, but the plan ran into problems: first when South African firm Denel was blacklisted and this year when the Israeli Military Industry (IMI) received similar treatment after its name figured in a Central Bureau of Investigation case.

The Minister was informed by the OFB that a pilot batch of the Bi-modular Charge System modules that the factory is to produce have been assembled at Nalanda in collaboration with the Defence Research and Development Organisation and it will soon be offered to the Army for trials.

The OFB, Ministry officials said, told Mr. Antony that plant for bulk production would be set up through indigenous resources at a lesser cost. According to reports, the IMI was to set up the plant at a cost of Rs. 1,200 crore.

Incidentally, with the government barring the IMI from doing business with the OFB and the Defence Ministry earlier this year for a period of six years, the Board encashed the Rs. 224 crore bank guarantee provided by the Israeli firm on the grounds that there was a breach of the “integrity pact'' it signed for securing the contract after winning a competitive bid.

The OFB said it achieved a turnover of Rs. 12,391 crore in the last financial year, a 10.48 per cent increase over the Rs. 11,215 crore turnover in 2010-11.

The OFB is planning to invest Rs 15,764 crore to modernise its 39 factories and augment their capacities in the 12 Plan period. This is a sharp hike, compared to Rs. 2,953 crore for the same task in the previous Plan period.

During the recent past, the government sanctioned some major projects, including a Rs. 971 crore investment to augment the capacity of T-90 tanks from 100 to 140 tanks; a Rs. 378 crore plan to increase the capacity of manufacturing large calibre weapons; and Rs. 368 crore to augment the capacity of spares for the T-72 and T-90 tanks.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 7:59:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/antony-reviews-ordnance-factory-board-work/article3321340.ece

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